First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Now having related the history, which in the Sixth Age of the World extended into the 53rd year of the reign of Frederick III and into the 7th year of the reign of his illustrious son, Maximilian, at which we have arrived with the assistance and power of divine grace, it is fitting that we now say something of the last age and of the end of the world, so that this work may be complete and have a commendable conclusion.

In the beginning of this work we said, as the Holy Scriptures instruct us, that the world will have an end. Although Plato, the prince of philosophers, was enlightened with great wisdom and understanding of that which had, been written, and more particularly in natural philosophy, yet this heavenly and hidden interpretation, which can be learned only from the prophets and from God, was unknown to him. Consequently he said that the world was created for eternity. But it is otherwise; for that which has a concrete and physical body must necessarily have an end, just as it had a beginning. But as Aristotle could not conceive how a thing so immense could perish, yet would not entirely concede Plato’s a view, he held that the world always had existed, and would continue to exist, although earth, water, and fire, which are a part of the world, may perish, be consumed, or extinguished; and so the matter is considered entirely from a mortal viewpoint. All things are considered mortal, whose parts or members are mortal; and that which is born may perish. Everything that may be seen is corporeal, and (as Plato says) is subject to dissolution. Therefore the master, Epicurius, (as Demitritus states) uttered the truth in this matter when he said that the world at one time had a beginning, and therefore will come to an end sometime. When the end of the world approaches, a change must necessarily take place in the human status, and when evil gains the ascendancy, that status must decay; so that our present time, in which sin and evil have reached the highest stage, will be regarded as blessed and golden in comparison to that unhallowed time. Righteousness will be a stranger; unkindness, greed, avarice and licentiousness will multiply and spread, so that the just (if any be found) will be a prey to the evil ones, and be intimidated by them. The wicked alone will prosper, while the pious will be dishonored and suffer want. Justice, law, and equity will find no refuge. No one will be able to acquire or retain possession of anything, except by force, wickedness, or greed. There will be no faith in humanity, no peace, no good will, no mercy, no shame, no virtue, no truth, no fidelity, and consequently no security; no order, no government, and no rest or repose from the wicked. The whole world will be in revolt, and the people will take up arms and rage against one another. States will war against each other to extermination. The sword will force its way through the world, devastating everything, reducing all to refuse. And finally will come such a period of horror and. cruelty that no man will find pleasure in life. The cities will be razed to the ground and perish, not by fire and sword alone, but by constant earthquakes, floods, manifold plagues, famine and death. The air will be charged with rain-storms, followed by drought, then frost, and finally by excessive heat; and the soil, and the trees and vineyards will bring forth no fruit. Although their blossoms may give promise thereof, they will deceive us in the harveSt. The springs and rivers will subside and dry up, and the water will be turned to blood and bitterness, and in consequence the beasts of the earth, the fowls in the air, and the fish in the sea will perish; and wonders and signs will appear in the sky, to the great fear and consternation of the people. O you exalted rulers, you prelates, you emperors, you kings, you princes, you lords, you knights, you superiors, you subjects, you aged, you youthful, you rich, you poor, you mortals, open your eyes and your ears, and think of the departed, and consider the future so that the sleep of death may not seize you, nor sudden changes of fortune ruin you; for no human suggestion or counsel can protect you against the same. Children of the world, consider how slippery is the path upon which you tread, and temper your avarice, your impurity, your wrath, your boasting, and your vainglory. And therefore, O you mortals, as you observe the approach of the day on which you must depart from hence, honor God on high and love him with all your heart; be wise and accept virtue; honor the worthy; hold your friends in great fidelity and faith; follow the advise of the learned and the sensible, and let virtue, mercy and righteousness manifest itself in you, so that you may appear in innocence at the judgment, and attain the reward promised to the just and virtuous by God, the just judge.



God created the world (as was stated in the beginning of this book) and the wonderful works of nature, in six days, and in the manner set forth in the Holy Scriptures; and he sanctified the seventh day, on which he rested from his labors, Seven is a perfect number; for there are seven days in the week, seven stars which never set, and seven stars, called the erring ones, whose irregular course and movements cause variations in time and matter. And as the Sixth Age has been completed, we shall now speak, firstly of the antichrist, and secondly of death and the end of all things; and finally of the Last Judgment and of the Seventh Age, or the repose of the souls.

Of the Antichrist

We have two definite indications that the end of time is now at hand,- firstly, the opposing view of the Jews, of which there is no sign; and secondly, of the reign of and persecution by the antichriSt. This persecution, as the belief of the Church holds, will endure for four and a half years. But in order that this may not come as a surprise, ensnaring those who are unprepared, Enoch and Elijah, the great prophets and teachers, will, as it is said, come before it begins, and convert the Israelites to grace, and make the chosen ones invulnerable to the pressure of this great fury. And when they have preached for four and a half years, and (as the prophet Malachy prophesied of Elijah) have converted the hearts of the fathers, and through atonement have reconciled them to the ancient faith, and have implanted love for the saints into the minds of those then living, this cruel and furious persecution will first of all crown Enoch and Elijah with the power and virtue of martyrdom, and will then disperse the rest of the faithful, either as glorious martyrs to Christ, or as condemned apostates. The antichrist will come out of Syria or, as others have said, out of Babylonia, of the tribe of Dan, and will be conceived of the Evil Spirit a perverter and destroyer of mankind,- a most wicked being and a prophet of lies, who will name and, set up a god of his own and demand that he himself be worshipped as his son. He will claim that power was given him to perform miracles, and, through the employment of the black arts and by devilish intercourse, will seduce the people to worship him. He will command fire to descend from the heavens, and the sun to stand still, and will destroy the images; and all of this is to happen at his command. And by such wonders he will incite wise men. He will then undertake to destroy the temples of God, and to persecute the righteous. There will be such oppression and bruising as has not been known since the beginning of the world. Those who believe in him and come to him will be branded like cattle, while those who refuse to be branded will be compelled to flee to the mountains, or suffer death by extraordinary tortures. He will confine and place in bondage the righteous, together with the books of the prophets, and will have the power to devastate the earth for forty-two months. This will be the time when righteousness will be abandoned and scorned, and innocence despised. The evil will war against the good. There will be no law, no order, no knightly discipline; and all things will be dispersed and intermingled contrary to nature and decency. Neither age, youth, childhood, sex, dignity, honor or office will be spared, and the entire earth will be overrun and reduced to naught by general plunder and murder. When these things occur, the righteous and the followers of truth will sever themselves from the wicked, and flee to the hermitages and the wilderness. When antichrist comes to Jerusalem he will circumcise himself and show himself to the Jews as ChriSt. They will adhere to him and rebuild his temple. He will present many gifts to the deceived, and by avarice bring some to subjection. He will send forth into the world legates and emissaries; while Enoch and Elijah, who will have lived in Paradise until then, will, as heretofore stated, pay the penalty of death. Finally, according to the vision of Daniel, this antichrist will appear upon the top of the Mount of Olives, from which the Saviour ascended to heaven, and from thence he will vanish. And when the son of perdition is slain by the Lord (as some say) or by the archangel Michael, and condemned to eternal wrath, it is not credible that the day of judgment will be at hand; otherwise mankind would know the time of the Last Judgment, which is to come four and a half years after this persecution by the antichriSt. No one is privileged to know how long after the devastation by the antichrist the judgment day will come. The hour of its advent is fittingly looked forward to by all the pious, and they crave its early arrival. But those who presume to know or preach that this hour is near or remote are on perilous ground; for Christ, the Son of God, our Saviour in speaking of the Last Judgment said that no one, not even the angels in heaven, but God alone, knows the hour. And so St. Jerome says, "Blessed are those who, beyond the death of the antichrist, 1290, that is four and a half years, will tarry 45 days, in which time the Lord and Saviour will return to his sovereignty.

Of Death and the End of Things

Adam, the ancestor of all mankind, was so constituted that as time passed he continued to live on, at no time cognizant of that termination of life which we, in consequence of Satanic temptation, have come to know as death. However, by transgressing the divine command, he soon encountered in the flesh a law, which he discovered to be contrary to the dictates of his own mind. And so he was compelled to live his life by the sweat of his brow; to exile himself from bliss; to suffer want in fear and trembling, stinking of sin. He suffered as an offender according to the offense given his Creator. Having ignored the obligation of obedience, he himself was reduced to fear the fury of beasts and unreasoning brutes. Through satisfaction of his carnal desires, he found himself in a state of confusion. Having trifled away his innocence, he was compelled to suffer from its loss. He declined with age; for having lost his immortality, he decayed. In maturing he hastened his own end. And so also, we who descended from him are subject to insurmountable cares, temptations, and vexations, and finally are linked to fearsome death. From him we inherited the natural tendencies and characteristics which caused the dispersion of the human race. What pleasure and joy do men seek in these times in this vale of tears, in which we find nothing but natural imbecility, fickleness of fortune, inconstancy of mind, the stain of sensual pleasures, and constantly recurring vexations and wars? When we enter this world we are without the power of speech, not understanding what we see or hear. From thence we creep into childhood, during which period we lack in perseverance. From childhood we attain to the growing period, wherein we crave pleasures according to age, which develop with the spirit. From the growing period we reach the age of youth, becoming involved in numerous and greater cares, as we venture upon greater things beyond our youthful knowledge and confidence. After youth we became established, in manhood, consumed by distressing combats with worldly pomp, avarice, envy, hate, covetousness, and divers tears. From manhood we depart into old age, with its fill of ills. From old age we fall into the spent life of resignation, during which we are kept in constant dread through fear of immediate or approaching death. O, you poor beings, naked and ungainly, born in the midst of uncertainties and tears, with but little milk to nourish you; trembling and creeping, and deserving of extraneous assistance; surrounded by various ills, and subject to countless pains, counsel and aid being of no avail; tossed about in an admixture of joy and sorrow, your will powerless, unconscious of the purpose of your being, and not knowing what you eat or drink. Bodily sustenance, which other animals find at hand, you are obliged to seek with great effort and labor. Sleep pales you; food bloats you and drink overwhelms you. Waking dulls you, while hunger and thirst famish you. You are worried by past, present and future events. In spite of want you strut about and carry on with pride, realizing your weakness, - a future carcass for worms. Your life is brief, the term of your existence doubtful, and you are subject to thousands of forms of death; to say nothing of the fact that you are so constituted that you languish in idleness, are fatigued by your labors, depressed by gluttony, exhausted by hunger, and suffer through excess. You are at all times influenced and limited by the course of the heavens, and subject to the fickleness of fortune. The course of your life is filled with fear, misery, need and treachery. But when we take up the weapons of love and the shield of faith, and adopt a course preparatory to a future life, we will undoubtedly overcome all obstacles that we may encounter. Our pains are dissolved by death, which our ills cannot surmount, and which will restore us to that peace which prevailed before our birth. For to him who dies in blessedness, death is life; wherefore those who have lived in righteousness, yearn for death so that they may be with Christ and receive the reward of a well conducted life. If we take a more exalted view, we will find that death is but the termination of sin. For when Adam transgressed the commandment of God and lapsed into guilt and sin, God restored to the earth the body of Adam, which was created from it, not to make an end of the creatures themselves, but of the sin which they had committed. Therefore God is the beginning and the end. When he so wills we are born; and when he so wills we die. These matters are entirely within his divine power, and not in our control. But one thing he left to our own free will, namely, that by living a good and righteous life we may attain a good end, Therefore, to die in Christ, our Lord, should be the sole object of our greatest zeal. Those who do so, do not die, but simply pass from destructibility to indestructability, from mortality to immortality; from restlessness to rest. Accordingly some have not inaptly said that death is not an evil thing, but the greatest of all blessings. And as neither the day nor the hour of our call from hence is known to us, it is to our salvation that we live according to the will of God, keep his commandments, always be prepared, and do not postpone our preparedness; for we have seen many who in the best of health and strength did not concern themselves with such matters, and were suddenly carried off; while, on the other hand, some, of whose recovery physicians had despaired, returned to health. Now as all these matters are in the power of God alone, it behooves us to say no more, except that (as already stated) we remain obedient to God’s commandments throughout our lives and to the end. We firmly believe that God created man in his own image. What lighter task, then, could we encounter than that of shaking off this earthly frame, this mortal coil, and returning to him who did not scorn to make us in his own image; so that the human spirit, filled with the spirit of God, may live on forever among the angels and the choirs of the saints as a participant in the Divinity and its blessings?